The journey into Laos started with a two day slow boat ride on the mighty Mekong river. Our party of two had become three after bumping into Jane, an entertaining long-legged redhead, who we first met in Cartagena way back in September. Getting to spend extra time with her and hear more of her hilarious stories was definitely the highlight of the boat ride, which is saying something as the scenery was pretty stunning.
Even before we got on the boat, Laos had won our hearts. The border town of Huay Xai was full of crazy (and drunk) people. It made for an eventful first evening as we joined/were forced to join two very screechy women as they did shots of beer, fell over a lot and told us they loved us… again and again and again.
The boat spluttered along past villages tucked into forests as we chatted to fellow passengers and gathered a bit of a gang, so by the time we arrived at our destination, Luang Prabang, we were rolling ten deep.
The week we spent in Luang Prabang was fantastic, we slowly explored the gorgeous colonial town and the surrounding area with our new friends. I was really excited to return to this town – it had been my highlight of Laos on my last visit all those ten years ago. Of course it has changed, though not too dramatically, it is still disneyland cute with lots of orange-robed monks roaming the streets.
The highlight was definitely the waterfalls, which were almost too stunning to be real. They looked like a screensaver from Windows97, with the colours turned up bright and somehow smudged around the edges. We climbed up to the top and swum in a natural pool of icy cold water, which was refreshing at first and then teeth chatteringly cold after a while. There was also a Moon Bear sanctuary at the bottom of the falls, which was interesting, if a bit odd.
As the days went on our gang members dwindled and finally we had to say goodbye to Jane, which was sad, but brilliantly she lives in East London so we will be catching up in not too distant future. In losing Jane, we did gain a Chris though, and he was to be our third member for next part of our journey: the north. More of that soon…